A Volcanic Eruption of Kindness in London
--by JellyLegs, posted Sep 9, 2010
I run a hotel in London. During the problems with the now infamous ash cloud, I spent the morning listening to people calling in to a radio show on London's LBC radio station to tell their stories of woe....some had missed flights for holidays, some couldn't get home following the volcanic eruption.
The story that struck me the most was a call from a man named Peter who had just gotten married the previous weekend to Maz. They were due to leave for their honeymoon to the Dominican Republic but could not due to the ash cloud. When James O'Brien, the radio presenter, asked if he was upset, Peter said: "Not at all, I've married the loveliest girl in the world whom I adore so no I'm not unhappy at all". Both, the presenter and I were blown away by the beautiful answer.
A little later, after numerous cancellations due to people not being able to travel, I had an idea and called the LBC station. I spoke to the producer of the show and asked if she could contact Peter to offer him and his wife a room for the weekend at the hotel. She later called back to say Peter and Maz were delighted and would love to take up the offer,. The producer asked if I would like to formally offer them the room on the radio show, but I declined as did not want any publicity for it.
So, two days later, Peter and Maz arrived at the hotel and checked in. What is incredible is the sequence of events that followed after my initial offer.
The hotel is situated in Kensington, which is mainly a residential area and thus parking can be a bit of a problem. Peter had parked outside the hotel in the residents parking zone and had written a note explaining the situation about their honeymoon and staying at the hotel and left it on the dashboard of the car. Later that day he spotted a traffic warden reading the note and walking off! Kensington traffic wardens are notorious in their severity and ruthlessness. When Peter ran outside to see if parking there would be ok, the traffic warden said, "I don't know if another traffic warden will be as nice as me but I won't be giving you a ticket". Considering traffic wardens work on commission, and having had numerous run-ins with them myself, I was dumb struck.
Peter and Maz decided to celebrate and go out to Covent Garden for dinner. While eating, they were chatting to their waiter, who asked why they were in London. When Peter told him about their honeymoon, and then the hotel room gift and finally the traffic warden, the waiter was just as surprised with all the generosity they had received. When Peter came to pay the bill, all the waiter said was " Your dinner's on me!" and wished them all the very best!
I love how a simple phone call, led to a sequence of events that would touch so many. I was so pleased to have made a bad situation better for a young couple, but what I really love is how it snowballed into so much more.
However, i do have a different thought on one of your actions.
When you declined to offer the room through the radio network you were obviously being humble and perhaps even motivated to not in any way be seen as cashing in on some free publicity. And you may have your own reasons behind this decision.
However, in doing so, you lost out on an opportunity to share your story and act of kindness with a much larger audience and thereby denying many of them to be inspired to follow your foot steps.
Wouldn't have been wonderful if all the hotel owners in london--well ok, let's say a significant number of them--were so inspired after listening to your story to do the same and offer their now otherwise empty rooms to other people in similar situations?
This is just a thought, but i do strongly believe in the power of self-propagating goodness. If the initial push is little stronger it can reach a far more distance and impact many more lives.
Notwithstanding, any of the above, your act of kindness is admirable and i salute you for this. Keep up the good work.